Uber seems bent on amending its run down reputation after coming under fire for lack of wheelchair-accessible rides. Lining with this, the popular ride-sharing company announced Thursday, July 20, that Chicago-based passengers with disabilities can now use the company's app to ferret out a ride.
The service was originally restricted only to a few riders in Chicago who used a special code they received from handicapped-accessibility groups. In a recently released statement, Uber confirmed that a code won't be required from this point forward.
Uber has been in cahoots with rental and leasing partners as well as drivers for about a year in the bid to extend its fleet. As a result, the San-Francisco-based company now has 65 wheelchair-accessible vehicles that are reachable through the app.
The service is dubbed as UberWAV, an abbreviation for wheelchair accessible vehicle, which simply alludes to a van which has been adjusted to accommodate a wheelchair.
Admitting that there's still room for improvement in a statement, Uber Chicago's general manager, Marco McCottry said that the company is keen on developing and bringing in new solutions to the mobility challenges the disability community has to deal with.
Just like any other Uber service, UberWAV is accessible through the app. Besides, it costs exactly the same as single-passenger rides or normal UberX, but that's not all. As many as three passengers can accompany the person in a wheelchair.
However, Uber's move cannot be completely perceived as charitable. It can be recalled that in 2016, the Chicago City Council issued an ordinance compelling all ride sharing services to make their vehicles more disabled friendly.
Aside from that, Uber is facing a law suit in New York, Washington, D.C. as well as Chicago for the scarcity of an accessible mode of transportation services. It's worth noting that at present the company's rival Lyft provides an identical service in Chicago.
The specially designed vehicles bearing wheelchair ramps do not constitute the whole equation as it is also imperative for the company to ensure UberWAV drivers are well trained and authorized to securely transport a passenger with a wheelchair.
Third parties like CTAA (Community Transportation Association of America), TAPTCO (Transit & Paratransit Company) or the Open Doors Organization verify these drivers and vehicles in WAV's most outstanding practices as well as vehicle securement, Uber said in a press release.
This type of training comprises correct ways to secure a wheelchair using tie-down straps, which ensures it doesn't skip out when the vehicle is moving.
Aside from Chicago, UberWAV is currently available in 28 cities, according to UberGO, a website that is not associated with the ride-sharing company. The service has also been up for grabs in Toronto, Ontario, since January last year.
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